Bullies, Children & A Mother’s Love
If you have children, there is no doubt you’ve been introduced to bullies. You know, the leaders in a pack of unsuspecting followers, members, or spectators. I’m not a fan of bullies. In fact, I’m not a fan of mean people at all. I loathe them. Bullying seems to accompany humiliation, embarrassment, and has a power that few recognize or acknowledge unless they’ve been a victim.
I’ve recently learned the long-term effects of a bully and how it is a thief. A bully holds the power to steal your smile, your self-confidence, your joy, your self-respect while simply replacing it with only insecurity and low self-esteem. There’s a saying that has a lot of truth:
“Tell a girl she’s pretty a thousand times, she’ll doubt and never believe you. Tell a girl she’s ugly once, and she’ll believe it for the rest of her life”.
I’m not entirely sure if that is the right quote, verbatim, but its close enough and is certainly the truth. No one should have that power…not in school, out of school, home, friends, family, church, life…absolutely no one. Why would anyone give a bully the power to make them doubt who and what they are? I’m not sure, but it happens…every day.
As the parent of 2 children very close in age, in school, and well on their way in the world of education, God gifted me with a third precious child. The oldest two children allowed me to learn while taking very good notes. It was a live preview of “dos & don’ts”. I have often referred to them as my pioneers while guiding me to be the very best mother I can be. I also made a lot of mistakes. I look back and realize there were probably more mistakes that I will admit, but it was never intentional and–at the time–I felt it was the right thing to do as a mother. By the time the third one came along, I pulled notes often. I promised I had learned and vowed to get it right. Practice makes perfect. Right? Newsflash. That’s not right. The first child had everything sanitized, sterilized, and I was reading motherhood books daily. After the third child was born, the dog was fetching the pacifier because of a five-second rule–or something close. I had learned that my children were resilient, not nearly as fragile as I thought, they were healthy, well-rounded and I had managed to keep them alive…without a Motherhood Manual! However, there are things that catch me off guard sometimes, that’s when I have to sit down, observe, and figure out how to learn from it while hoping to make it a teachable moment.
Bullying has reared its ugly head more than once during my years of being a mother. It’s a very difficult place to find yourself when you’re supposed to be the adult while dealing with children who are–well—mean. The mother in me wants to intervene and parent them like I’d parent my own…eh…but I’ve never thought I’d look cute in a mug shot. So, I adult and adult’ing is hard! Dealing with a bully requires a lot of control for a mother who typically has a knee-jerk reaction when it involves her children. Am I different from other mothers? I doubt it. Don’t we all want to fight for our children? If I don’t fight for them, who will? Am I correct when I say I’m my child’s only advocate? Yes. I am 100% correct. That’s my job.
I’ve learned that teaching my child about the high-road is no easy task. My gut wants to say:
“This is what you do first…when they start verbally hammering you, you turn around and tell your buddy to hold your Starbucks cup…then…well, you know, act like trash”.
Although that’s what my gut says, my heart and common sense disagrees. I’ve tried to instill “be a lady, be an example, love anyway”. A recent event has forced me to dig deep in the parenting department and it happened just this week.
Bullies are bold, mouthy, and typically cowards. That’s why there’s a term called “school yard bullies”. Some bullies never outgrow it. They just breed small bullies and the cycle continues. However, to the victim, coward never seems to pop in their head. When a boy bullies a girl, it’s a new ballgame. It’s not okay. When a boy bullies a girl in a very large group of her peers…it’s really not okay. That’s typically when all hell breaks loose and the child doesn’t have to do anything because her mother has the “actin’ like trash” department completely covered. Instinct. Okay, maybe only my instinct. I learned something new this week. I was schooled that a parent has to be careful while using the word “bully” because that is now a legal term. Huh? We have become so politically correct that we have to tap-dance around a term because it may label a child. Really? This is what I got out of that: There’s protection for the bully, but where’s the protection for the child who’s the victim of bullying? Have we become so weak that we’re scared to line up a child and call out his mean behavior? Is a little girl supposed to look forward, remain stoic while being verbally hammered by a bully like a good little sandwich maker? No. She’s not. Not mine. Then the bullying scenario gets difficult. How do you teach a child to love the unlovable, turn the other cheek, when she finds herself a target? That question requires a lot of thought. When your children hurt, you hurt. Simple fact. It’s called a mother’s love.
It’s never okay to bully someone. It’s never okay to point out looks that you perceive as faults, but–in fact–is what makes a person beautiful and different. Who’s to say what is beautiful or unattractive? Who has that authority? Certainly no one I know. It’s never okay to rip another human being to shreds while stroking your ego. It’s never okay to make another human being feel like they are some sort of defective screw-up based on your boldness in the malicious department. The bully walks away unscathed as if they’ve achieved some sort of award in nobility, while the victim of that bully is left with the after-math of their cruel destruction. They sleep well while the victim looks in the mirror seeing fault. That is not okay. Not ever.
God has called us to love. If we want to go to heaven, we also have to forgive. The only answers I have while giving a life lesson to my child about bullying is this:
Remember who you are. Remember to Whom you belong. No one has the power to take your joy, your confidence, your self-esteem, self-respect, integrity and no one has the ability to control your mood.
On a lighter note, remember this:
When your mother finds out that someone is hurting you, please look away while she has a hissy fit, acts like trash, and shoots off her mouth after someone poked the bear. The Mama Bear. The one that makes God shake his head and declare he gave that one way too much free will. I have a feeling that happens more often than not. (Confession is good; right?) Look back on your notes about what you were taught about forgiveness and love. Lastly, remember anything she does, right or wrong, is because of her deep love for you. A mother’s love is unconditional…and well…will sometimes make us appear crazy…okay…crazier.
Never give a mean person or bully any power over you. You are beautiful. You belong to The One who made you and your beautiful heart. When dealing with a difficult or mean person, simply learn from them. Allow them to show you exactly who you don’t want to be and aim higher. One day, when you’re a mother…it will all make sense.